As Much As, If Not More Than

H.L. Hix. Etruscan (Consortium, dist.), $17 trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-0-9886922-1-3
The latest from the indefatigable Hix (First Fire, Then Birds) confirms his often breezily philosophical, sometimes intensely attentive, powers, along with his ability to invent new forms. In this case, it’s two forms—the first a braid of aphorisms and fragments: “Chickens pecking at the dust around the House of Cultural Prestige”; “We see the grass, but not the soil.” After accretions of such pithy thoughts come a series of lineated poems in loose stanzas capped with off-rhymed couplets. Some reflect the fact that this once-Southern, once-Midwestern poet has settled at the University of Wyoming: “Through what window onto what other world may I look,” Hix asks, “for an alternative organization of space,/ a reconstruction of the possibilities of home?” Trying “to demonstrate that nothing is ordinary,” Hix interleaves his musings, a la John Koethe, with domestic details and bits of American landscape (“an algae mat on the water merging/ with the moss hushed on the trunk”). There is also a six-page “self-interview” assembled wholly from quotations. Hix—who has penned sonnet sequences, verse sculpted from words by George W. Bush, and narrative based on the Book of Job—will not lose fans with this relatively diffuse book, but he may not gain many either: impressive enough as phrasemaker, as builder of forms, he shines when he has some reason to compress, to edit himself, to cut things down. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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